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MC's picture

Space is being shaped right now! 

Looking back on some of the classes we've had I realized that I do not agree with some of the choices that we as a class either made or went along with. For this web paper I have tried to address those issues. 


While Live Nude Girls Unite! was extremely interesting, and sex work was clearly a topic that we wanted to discuss, because we took up more than the allotted time on it we ended up pushing our discussion of Sarah Palin back so that it shared a day with our bell hooks discussion. On that day instead of discussing both Sarah Palin and bell hooks equally, we devoted much if not all of our time to Sarah Palin. I admit that I was not very interested in discussing Sarah Palin, but I am more upset about this turn of events because it meant that we spent little to no time on bell hooks. bell hooks is one of the most influential feminist authors of our time, and has shaped a lot of current feminist thought particularly on issues of class and race. I am also upset because I interpreted her being added to the syllabus as a response to some students', including my own, request for a discussion of non-white American feminism. While not intentionally, we ended up discussing a white, conventionally attractive conservative ciswoman over bell hooks, which felt to me like the perpetuation of the history of erasing the voices of people of color. I do not think this was a conscious decision made by the class, but it is still a decision that I would like to inspect and rethink. This project is a rethinking of what our classes on April 5 and April 10 might have looked like.



“Women of color live in the dangerous intersections of gender and race. Within the mainstream antiviolence movement in the US, women of color who survive sexual or domestic abuse are often told that they must pit themselves against their communities, often portrayed stereotypically as violent, in order to begin the healing process. Communities of color, meanwhile, often advocate that women keep silent about sexual and domestic violence in order to maintain a united front against racism. In addition, the remedies for addressing sexual and domestic violence utilized by the antiviolence movement have proven to be generally inadequate for addressing the problems of gender violence in general, but particularly for addressing violence against women of color. The problem is not simply an issue of providing multicultural services to survivors of violence. Rather, the analysis of and strategies for addressing gender violence have failed to address the manner in which gender violence is not simply a tool of patriarchal control, but also serves as a tool of racism and colonialism. That is, colonial relationships are themselves gendered and sexualized.” Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, pg. 1.  

Assigned reading for: April 5 Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism pp 17-28, 29-39,55-70, 99-118,119-132,142-156, 182-200

Setting the stage: "[Silence] is a Weapon" Blackfire --> explicitly political music (such as Pussy Riot) and the history of music as protest; nonviolent action; censorship

"To act as if our neighborhood is something they needed to "clean up" or "take back" is insulting. It is as if our new neighbors deny that  our business, familial relationships, and community ever really existed in the first place." Taigi Smith (Colonize This!)

-The erasure of any people of color, especially women of color, from historical and physical spaces and narratives that they have traditionally belonged to -->Spivak, Kristof

-"Gentrification is a premeditated process in which an imaginary bleach is poured on a community and the only remaining color left in that community is white..." Taigi Smith pg. 58


-How do we interact with and process colonialism?

-How do we understand colonization in works like "Half the Sky" and the organizations and practices it supports?

-How do we reconstruct the concept of global non-profits?

-What does it mean to have a colonized body?

-->Teju Cole's response to Kristof, Invisible Children, and similar ventures: "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege."

Break into small groups of 3-5 and discuss your initial reactions to the reading. How do they discuss previous class topics? Make one: mantrafesto, and 1. question list

---->APRIL 10

Assigned reading for: April 10

bell hooks “Feminism is For Everyone: Passionate Politics" pp. 1-6, 37-43, 48-54, 61-66, 101-104, 110-118

Melissa Harris-Perry “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America” Chapters 1, 2, 7 pp. 28-97, 269-300

-The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae, for today: Cold War

-What does it mean to look at non-text media, especially music, which is often targeted at a wider audience with fewer social spheres in common?

-What can be conveyed with aural and oral media that cannot with textual media? What about movement?

-What pressurres are placed on artists, particularly women of color?

-Can an album be studied as a feminist text? Consider all of the music we have presented previously

-"Individuals denied access to the public realm or whose gropu membership limits their social possibilites cannot be accurately recognized." Harris-Perry, pg. 38

-What is power feminism?


-"From its earliest inception feminist movement was polarized." hooks pg. 4

-Break into small groups and discuss what it means to believe in revolutionary or reformist feminism. Looking back at the texts we've read, the films we have seen, and the music we've listened to, would you describe them as revolutionary or reformist? Neither? What does that mean for their consumption and accessibility?

-The crooked room

-" women's citizenship is shaped by their attempts to navigate a room made crooked by stereotypes that have psychic consequences." Harris-Perry pg. 43

-woman as politician and as partner to political figures

-"Michelle Obama is constrained by different stereotypes from those that inhibit white women. After she was depicted as irrationally angry... the publc space for her... shrank considerably." Harris-Perry pg. 289


While attempting to construct this syllabus I ran into a few blocks, one of them being how realistic the reading load was. I would have preferred just reading all of Colonize This!, for instance, especially as they are personal essays that are fairly accessible, but in comparison to our other class readings it didn't seem reasonable, as we usually had at least a week to cover a single book. Even having three chapters of Sister Citizen along with the bell hooks reading feels like I was overstepping, and had this been an actual class the conversation might not have gotten in depth as we might have liked because of the amount of reading. As it is, I feel like the only way to get as much as we could out of these classes would be if we split into small groups based on interest in topics, and then brought the class back together to do a single write-up post after class detailing the discussions. For the first day I had the class create both a mantrafesto and a string of questions because I am personally very interested in how they would compare to each other, but also as a further study of how we are using language in our class and in the world at large. I felt like these classes fit in well with our previous discussions of privilege, viewership, authorship, and consumption especially in relation to our discussions of Spivak and Half the Sky. 

I still don't feel as if there's nearly enough time to talk thoroughly about this, and I know there are some gaping holes, but I think that this might be a start. I don't claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. 


Anne Dalke's picture

Re-shaping as we speak?

I'm so glad to have your continuing to think w/-and-for this class about how we shape and set-up our conversations.

I certainly take to heart your critique that --in our desire to incorporate some 'non-normative' feminist voices (i.e. Palin) --we ended up focusing on the life work of "a white, conventionally attractive conservative ciswoman" over the speaking "voices of people of color."

I appreciate even more your not just offering this critique, but actually taking the time and energy to create a viable alternative, one that (as you admit!) both addresses the issue @ hand, and generates  its own problematics.

I will use this plan next time 'round, for which again thanks!

And what will you do next?

Will your final project be an expansion of this one, a semester's worth of re-thinking?